Oilers fans are rightfully upset at their team’s performance thus far. Expectations were sky high coming into the season, and they haven’t resembled anything close to the Stanley Cup Contender many thought they were. Fans don’t want to hear about Corsi and how this team is better than it’s shown. They’ve seen how poorly Edmonton’s played, and the hole they’ve put themselves in. But they’re also sitting at the top of the league in terms of shot attempts, so how could they been this bad while also out attempting teams regularly?
Edmonton has some interesting company. 15 out of 19 teams generating over 53 percent of shot attempts over the past five seasons made the playoffs. 10 of those teams made it past the first round. Four of those teams made the Stanley Cup Finals, with three of them (Chicago x2, Los Angeles) winning the Cup. Outshooting and out-attempting the other team is generally a good thing.
Carolina, Montreal, and San Jose are all over 53 CF% this season, too. The Canadiens are letting in even more goals 5-on-5 than Edmonton, a result of Carey Price being injured, and struggling because of it. The Sharks and Hurricanes, however, are winning and in range of the playoffs.
The Oilers don’t look like any of the teams that made the playoffs, but their shooting percentage and save percentage amongst the lowest here. That’ll change but by how much? Their 6.63 shooting percentage isn’t too far off of a few teams, so there’s some room for improvement there. Cam Talbot hasn’t been good, but he’s saved .916 of the shots faced since coming to Edmonton and has a career .920 save percentage. He’s currently at .901 on the season. Talbot’s going to play better, but I’m less sure their shooting is due for a big outburst.
I’m using 5-on-5 time on ice because hockey games are mostly played 5-on-5. Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse are two of Edmonton’s most common shooters, which includes four defencemen in the top ten. The McDavid line is mixed in between Klefbom/Nurse and Adam Larsson/Matt Benning. Last year, Klefbom was the only defenceman in the top five. Nurse, Larsson, and Sekera rounded out the nine, ten, and eleven spots then.
It’s good to have your defence active and shooting, but having them so involved in your attack could explain the lack of scoring despite strong shot totals. Defenceman aren’t as good finishers as forwards, as they’re in less dangerous shooting areas. The loss of Jordan Eberle hurts. He was one of their leading shooters and better finishers, and they never replaced him.
Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) has a wonderful site called HockeyViz.com that has heat maps for the most common areas teams take and allow shots.
The Oilers are generating a lot of chances in close, but a large percentage of their shots are coming from the points. They might be trying to hammer it in front and score via rebounds and deflections, in fact the players have said as much, but they’re doing it more than most of the league. They’re one of the lowest scoring teams, so it might not be a strategy that’s working.
It’s still early, but 22 games means a quarter of the season has already passed. They’re sitting second in Corsi For %, but they were 56% percent in their first 11 games, and that went down to 51.88% in their next ten games. Instead of their shooting percentage getting much better, it’s possible they just lack the scoring talent outside of the McDavid line and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and remain a lower finishing team.
Edmonton might be more 2014-15 and 2016-17 Los Angeles Kings than the dominant Corsi teams that made noise in the playoffs. The Kings were a big, heavy team that had impressive Corsi numbers, but were too slow and didn’t score enough following their Cup wins. The Kings acknowledged this and changed coaches, as well as personnel, in an attempt to get quicker and score more this season. The Oilers are trending this way, with a notable lack of speed outside of Connor McDavid, when the NHL is getting faster.
Stats from Corsica.hockey.